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Senior Quarterfinal Hand
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One interesting hand generated key pick-ups for the winning team in both Cappelli over Wolfson and Gupta over Mahaffey.

 

The hand was played six times (one match was over via concession).  Two of the dealers passed a marginal 11-count - all the rest opened.  At one key table, declarer faced an interesting guess in 3NT:

 

North
KJ
105
J85
AQ8432
South
AQ85
KQ
AK742
106
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

West lead the heart three to the ace, and the jack came back.  Declarer unblocked the spades, crossed in diamonds, and ran spades.  East followed to three rounds, then discarded a heart on the last spade:

West
North
KJ
105
J85
AQ8432
East
South
AQ85
KQ
AK742
106
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
5
A
Q
2
0
1
J
K
7
10
3
1
1
5
2
J
3
1
2
1
K
6
8
4
1
3
1
5
9
A
3
3
4
1
A
9
2
7
3
5
1
Q
10
3
6
3
6
1
7

This was the ending:

North
J8
AQ84
South
A742
106
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

What heart spots are left?  Can you draw any inferences about those cards?

What would you play next?

The 9,8,4, and 2 are still out.  West, who led his lowest heart, cannot have the two, so East has that spot card.  The rest is random.  East knew the heart layout when you dropped the queen, and returned the jack to make the position clear to partner.  So, at that point, both players knew the heart suit, and had no reason to choose one card over another. 

Clearly East has both of the key honor cards - the club king and the diamond queen.  If East was 3-5-3-2, East was squeezed out of a heart winner, and you can simply duck a diamond now.  That won't work, of course, if East started with six hearts.  But then, one of the minor suit honors must drop, and you can make by cashing all of your high cards. 

The percentages seem to favor that - there are more layouts with six hearts available then the one, specific, 3-5-3-2 hand.  More importantly, East has opened a marginal hand, and might find that more attractive with six hearts, and West, at favorable, might have made some noise, with four card trump support. 

Declarer chose ...  I'll tell you later.

Both Precision pairs opened the North hand with two clubs, and bid to five clubs, on identical auctions.  I'll rotate the hand around and let you declare that contract. 

North
AQ85
KQ
AK742
106
South
KJ
105
J85
AQ8432
W
N
E
S
2
2
X
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
P
P

One West led the heart ace, and shifted to the spade three.  The other led the spade three on the go.  So, the contract hinges on the trump suit, and there is really little reason not to play for the trump king onside.  However, it can't hurt to cash the trump ace first - maybe West was dealt KJ doubleton.  So both declarers layed down the trump ace, felling the king offside.  Good play.  However, that means that East started with J975, and seems to have two natural trump tricks. 

Can you get around that?

Let's follow the play where the heart ace was led:

West
North
AQ85
KQ
AK742
106
East
South
KJ
105
J85
AQ8432
W
N
E
S
 
2
2
X
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
Q
3
5
0
0
1
3
5
9
J
3
1
1
A
K
6
5
3
2
1
3

If all of our side-suit winners cash, this is easy - cash two more spades, both diamonds, trump something in hand, heart to the king, trump something.  That will bring us down to Q84 of clubs.  Simply exit with the club four and claim:

West
North
AQ85
KQ
AK742
106
East
South
KJ
105
J85
AQ8432
W
N
E
S
 
2
2
X
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
Q
3
5
0
0
1
3
5
9
J
3
1
1
A
K
6
5
3
2
1
K
6
A
2
1
3
1
Q
4
5
7
1
4
1
A
3
8
9
1
5
1
K
6
J
10
1
6
1
8
10
2
2
3
7
1
10
6
K
4
1
8
1
2
7
3
Q
3
9
1
10

This will work unless the second diamond gets ruffed.  But better timing can make the hand even if diamonds are 4-1.  Cash the spade king, cross to a diamond, and discard both diamonds on the spades.  Now, trump a diamond, heart to dummy, diamond ruff.  Clearly, it never helps for East to ruff in ahead of you, so this line makes the contract almost a certainty.

The play is a bit trickier after the spade opening lead, but, again, good timing can handle almost any shape.  Cash the other spade, cross to dummy in diamonds, and discard both diamonds.  Now, diamond ruff, heart, and the hand is over.

Neither declarer timed the play correctly, but, with diamonds splitting, both made their game.

The full hand:

West
763
AJ9862
Q109
K
North
AQ85
KQ
AK742
106
East
10942
743
63
J975
South
KJ
105
J85
AQ8432
W
N
E
S
 
2
2
X
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
 

What happened in that 3NT contract?  After long, long, thought, declarer led a low diamond, playing for the 3-5-3-2 squeeze hand.  12 IMPs to Gupta, who eventually won by four.  Meanwhile, the other three pairs ended in their 5-3 diamond fit, and, eventually, took a losing club finesse.  So, only the five club contracts made.  

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